A GREEN DESIRE by Anton Myrer
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Two brothers--one good, one evil--love the same ravishing girl. Sounds familiar? Well, yes, Myrer (The Last Convertible) is certainly recycling one of the hoariest melo-romance plots around, with cornball embellishments at every turn. But this predictable saga 'is also a bit richer than it might have been--because the period colors (1910-1945) are zestily laid on and because Myrer uses the two brothers to represent the conflict between good, American-Dream capitalism and bad, Robber-Baron capitalism. The good lad is born salesman Tip Ames; the baddie is his handsome older brother Chapin--who goes off to live with rich, manipulative Aunt Serena in Boston while Tip chooses to remain in the Berkshires with their poor, husband-deserted mum. Thus, while Tip becomes a scrappy, superb New England drummer for correspondence courses (the sort who goes to a brothel and winds up selling the madam a bookkeeping course), Chapin becomes an art-collecting aesthete. But both boys soon adore gorgeous Jophy Gaspa--spunky descendant of Portuguese ship-captains on Cape Cod. Tip loves her truly, totally. Cold-hearted Chapin is simply lustful--so, when Jophy spurns him, he vengefully, secretly sets fire to the Gaspa family boat, killing Grandpa Gaspa, then flees into the WW I army. (Only Aunt S. knows of his dark deed.) And, after the war, legendary sales-manager Tip (now wed to Jophy at last) ignores Jophy's warnings and applies his sales expertise to Chapin's stockbroking ambitions in New York--with the inevitable disasters ahead: Chapin practices the worst sort of speculation-broking, Tip vainly objects, the Crash comes, everyone (except slimy Chapin) is wiped out. Meanwhile, too, domestic tensions escalate: Jophy, something of a cardboard feminist, resents being left out of decisions, has an affair with a Spanish tennis star, and leaves with the kids when Tip is at his 1930s lowest (selling beer barrels); Chapin's society-radical wife Jenny, turned off by his sexual demands (sadism, three-sies with prostitutes), refuses to give him a child--so Chapin concentrates his passion on Jophy again. And then comes WW II, which brings Tip and Jophy together (their son's in the Navy) and reunites Tip and Chapin in the mutual-fund biz (kept on the up-and-up, thanks to Tip). But what about Chapin's long-ago dark deed, you ask? Don't worry: when Jophy then decides to marry Chapin, Aunt Serena tells all--and the vengeance finale is pure Victorian mellerdrama. So: subtle it's not. And it doesn't have the nostalgic glow of Last Convertible. But the evocation of noble Tip's never-say-die salesmanship is infectious, the Berkshire/Cape locales are spruce, and the mix of dollars and sentiment is pretty close to surefire.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1981
Publisher: Putnam